You broke our poll record!! Now it’s time for a new one!

Well, well, well…it seems that our last poll about Blaine got a lot of people’s attention. For we had never had so many people participate before. Here’s your results:

Continue reading “You broke our poll record!! Now it’s time for a new one!”

More news in the BOE race.

Today Shirley McDonald announced she too is dropping out of the race. Details can be found here.

It is sad to see another qualified candidate remove herself, but it is clear there is a strategy in place. And any strategy that ensures that Joy Schaefer, Ken Kerr and Michael Bunitsky are the ones on the BoE in the Fall, is a strategy the Yokel supports. Take a minute and click on their webpages and learn a little bit about them and their educational philosophies. We think you’ll like what you see! Let’s ensure that education in Frederick County stays on a positive track!

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Your Yokels’ thoughts and ideas about teacher salaries

We know Whiskas, we know.
We know Whiskas, we know.

I know it isn’t pleasant, but for a moment let’s take a trip down memory lane. Back to the dark days of the BOCC when the education budget wasn’t funded above the Maintenance of Effort (MOE) required by law. People came out in droves to testify before the BOCC, to no avail. This frustration helped usher Jan Gardner into office in 2014. To her word, County Executive Gardner has increased funding for our county schools. This year she allocated $10.5 million over the MOE funding from the previous year. County Superintendent Alban wanted $13.8 million for salaries in order to revamp the pay scale. The BOE slowly shook it’s collective head from side to side and reallocated $7.4 million from the salary pool. We think the title of FNP’s coverage of last night’s meeting kinda says it all:

Board of Education slammed by teachers, community during final budget approval

We know budgeting is hard, and there will be winners and losers. However, the teachers are sick and tired of being the losers. Every single year. And we are sick and tired for them. Friend of the Yokel Casey Day-Kells was quoted in the paper as saying this:

The FCTA secretary, Casey Day-Kells, offered an alliterative description for how teachers are feeling: “disheartened, discouraged, disrespected, demoralized, dismayed, depressed.”

“Not only one, is the scale broken, but at this time, so are many of your employees,” Day-Kells said.

You business people out there know that demoralized employees are not good for your bottom line. And while we know our county teachers are professionals who put on their best face every day, we can’t help but think this will affect how they perform their jobs.We want to help come up with some solutions, unlike some of our county politicians:

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Sorry to have to keep using this one folks. But it's kinda not our fault.
Sorry to have to keep using this one folks. But it’s kinda not our fault.

We are going to try to follow this logic. So since the BoE cut the money from salaries , Tony should have been allowed the amendment to do away with over $6 million from the total budget because that would have made this all better…how? So confused. Are we to forget the past, Mr. Delauter? Are you now painting yourself as a “friend of education” who has no problem raising teacher salaries???!!! PLEEAZZZEE!!! What about all those years you voted to keep the budget at MOE and therefore directly contributed to this problem? And how about that other time when you cut that Head Start program because all the women should be at home with their kids baking your pie? Our memory is long and detailed, councilman. As for the teachers voting on their salaries, we’ll let the above gif take care of that. We can’t keep addressing that issue over and over again. We just can’t. But, it sure seems like a hollow complaint, when the “get rich quick plan” to become Frederick County’s brand new council member teacher millionaire hybrid class is nakedly hogwash. Obvious to literally everyone with two brain cells to rub together is that they are not able to control that money pot.

Now onto our Yokel brainstorm. Since we cannot guarantee that money allocated to the school system will be used to increase salaries how about a special little tax increase that is specifically and only for this purpose?  Now before you get all:

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on us, just hear us out. Things cost money people. And yes, the government should do the absolute best job it can spending it wisely. (That doesn’t mean cutting just for the sake of cutting, Kirby!) However, sometimes things don’t work out the way we want them to and in order to get what we want we have to pony up!  So let’s say that we have a special fee just for this purpose. Whatever goes into this fund can and will only be used for salaries. The CE, Council, and BoE cannot use it for anything else ever. Kinda like the Chesapeake restoration fee on your water bill. And it wouldn’t have to be much. If every county resident (census prediction is 245,322 for June 2015) paid $41 a year we would have an extra 10,058,202. If you spread that out in monthly payments it comes to $3.42 a month. If you are ready and able to add more, feel free. And if we ever have a year that our teachers are paid a competitive salary, we can take a break from it. What say you, Yokels? If you have any other ideas, please put them in our comment section. Let’s start a dialogue on  how to fix this so we don’t have to have this same cycle of disappointment year after year after year.

Let’s fight for the money! Our schools are worth it honey!

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Kudos again to County Executive Gardner for adding $10.5 million above the maintenance of effort (MOE) for our schools. Tonight there’s a hearing about the budget:

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Our kids certainly can’t wait. The old BOCC’s policy of funding the public schools at MOE funding has made Frederick County dead last in the State for spending per pupil. That’s right people, dead last.

Read the whole article here: http://www.npr.org/2016/04/18/474256366/why-americas-schools-have-a-money-problem?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20160418
Read the whole article here: http://www.npr.org/2016/04/18/474256366/why-americas-schools-have-a-money-problem?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20160418

And we came across this disturbing article yesterday outlining how there has been a coordinated effort to decimate public schools. If you value education in our community you have some options to have your voice heard:

  1. Show up and testify at tonight’s hearing.
  2. Email your county council members at: councilmembers@frederickcountymd.gov and tell them that you support the County Executive’s budget.
  3. Vote for three of these articulate, caring and educated candidates for our Board of Education:

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Let’s make sure that education is a priority here in Frederick County!

 

The Yokel has a new hero: Lois Jarman edition.

At the Yokel we have a wide network of friends. Despite what the naysayers may say about us, we have fans across the political spectrum. We applaud when our politicians work well with one another in an attempt to make our county a better place to live. It’s those that stubbornly govern (or attempt to govern) from a place of dogged ideology, that makes them seem so angry all of the time, that we focus our ire upon.

So it’s oh so refreshing when we do get to focus on the positive. This story was relayed to us so forgive us if any of the details are off. BOE candidate Lois Jarman asked the Republican Women’s Club of Frederick if she could speak at their monthly meeting. Ahem, we’ve received an update to the story: Lois Jarman was refused the opportunity to speak by a member of the Republican Central Committee. She was, however, invited to speak by a member of the Republican Women’s Club. (Yay, ladies!) Reminder – the BOE race is non-partisan.

We believe these stinky details stand, courtesy of the Central Committee member: She was rebuffed, something about her being a Democrat and a union tool. Well, Mrs. Jarman was not to be put in a corner. She showed up anyway! We hear there was some discussion about still not allowing her to speak, however, those ladies who thought that they should actually hear someone out before dismissing them won the day! Mrs. Jarman was not only allowed to speak, but received  positive feedback from some of the ladies in attendance.

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Nice try, Republican Central Committee

So for your leadership and unwillingness to be sidelined, we here at the Yokel give Lois Jarman a tip of our hat:

Hell, we will even tip it to those women who not only allowed Lois to speak, but actually listened.
Hell, we will even tip it to those women who not only allowed Lois to speak, but actually listened.

Crazy untucked: Cindy Rose edition

After we had some words of wisdom to drop on our local looney depository the other day, we realized we neglected to specifically address some advice to Frederick County’s most freak flag flyingest BOE candidate (nonpartisan, por supuesto). We sat on it for a bit because every day the cons list we keep runs longer and longer.

*Always. Just who we need on a deliberative body. Someone who guarantees that they will be uncivil and uncooperative.
*Always. Just who we need on a deliberative body. Someone who guarantees that they will be uncivil and uncooperative. Please excuse the language–it really makes us cringe. We are citing a potty mouth, not using it ourselves. Not that we don’t appreciate a good swear now and then, but we try to respect those who do not share our enthusiasm for such colorful colloquialisms. High Rd., Cindy. Take it. View’s nice from up here.

Although, perhaps after seeing that there is a gallery collection of her nutbaggery plucked from the interwebs, someone wiser than she has told her to zip it up and hope that no one will notice. If only whomever that may be could have intervened for Blaine (who Mrs. Rose adores) before it was too late.

Maybe you like a pot stirrer. Or maybe you heard how important special education is to her. After all, she was able to talk David Vogt into sponsoring a bill to allow special needs parents to opt out of standardized testing. Oh, how did that go?

A few local entities didn’t support the bill. Why, why oh whyyyyy wouldn’t anyone be in favor of something that is supposed to help the children? Check it out. Probably because there are all kinds of special needs. That’s what makes the needs special, after all. Painting with a broad brush is exactly what we shouldn’t do in order to accommodate unique sets of circumstances, so special needs advocacy organizations were kinda, “NUH-UH.”

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And let’s not forget her appearance on the Glen Beck show. Here she lamented the fact that children were taught that other countries provided free child care and that child care in the United States was expensive. Also, she was very upset over the fact that children were being taught that they were part of a global community and it was their responsibility to demonstrate when they felt the sting of injustice. Somehow, in Glenbeckistan, these concepts are Un-American? Sure feels like the one who is Un-American is the one who won’t allow any criticism of the United States and wants to ban books. What’s particularly amusing about her appearance is that she is oh so sure that she has the support of the school board to get this book removed. Amusingly enough, that did NOT happen. Maybe because it is a waste of taxpayer money to get a new set of text books every time someone objects to a paragraph, especially when textbooks are hardly the primary way of teaching subject matter in 2016.

Then there’s the April 11th Frederick News Post Board of Education Forum. How can a person running for the BOE believe that salaries are not a concern? Under what rock must one live to think that Frederick County does not have a problem recruiting and retaining teachers due to the low salaries offered here? Just clueless. It’s the starting salaries that are lowest in the state. The ones willing to stomach that aren’t complaining about it as their first on their exit interviews. The ones who were not willing to accept the lowest pay in the state never accepted that job!

On her website there’s a link to a form letter that anyone who wants to opt out of testing is encouraged to use. It comes from a place called the Thomas More center. What’s the Thomas More center? Here’s how they describe themselves:

The Christian values upon which this Nation was founded are under attack. The ACLU and like-minded organizations are using sympathetic courts to destroy the religious and moral foundations of our great nation. Using the metaphor, “a wall of separation between church and state,” which is found nowhere in our Constitution, they attack crosses, Ten Commandment monuments, Nativity displays, Christmas celebrations in public schools, the Pledge of Allegiance, our national motto, “In God We Trust” and prayers at public meetings. The main battleground in this culture war is the courtroom and that is where the Thomas More Law Center is defending the religious freedom of Christians.

And …

Radical Muslims and Islamic organizations in America take advantage of our legal system and are waging a “Stealth Jihad” within our borders. Their aim is to transform America into an Islamic nation. They have already infiltrated the highest levels of our government, the media, our military, both major political parties, public schools, universities, financial institutions and the cultural elite. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, political leaders still claim “Islam is a religion of peace.” Our national leaders refuse to identify Radical Islam as the enemy. Political correctness has paralyzed our government’s ability to deal with these threats. That is why the Thomas More Law Center has been at the forefront of legal battle against this internal threat.

And we would be remiss if we did not mention her current campaign strategy of encouraging people to only vote for her. Out of a slate of 8, of which you can vote for 3, only her. She cannot find one other person on that list that she would like to run with? What does that say about her ability to work with others on the school board? Is this really about the community, or is it just about her? We’ll let you decide the answer to that one.

 

Hey Frederick City residents, care to pay double?

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Every few months the County Council sits down  with the Frederick Alderman to have a pow wow. We love that our local governmental entities make it a point to sit down and communicate with one another. Two of your Yokels are city residents and we have to say that we are always so impressed with these ladies and gentlemen. The way they work together, know their issues, and just seem so much more functional than some other government body. The main item on the agenda was to discuss school  construction.  Tony wants the city to pony up for the schools that are being built within the city limits. Thankfully Aldermanic heroes O’Connor and Kuzemchak were not having any of that. As Mr. O’Connor pointed out, city residents already pay county taxes. AND, it’s the county’s job–not the city’s–to build schools. Why should city residents be expected to pay twice?  And what kind of precedence would this set if local municipalities were expected to pay for school costs? Would that mean the incorporated areas of our county would be at an advantage when getting a new school? Or that they would be expected to come up with the money every time they needed a new school? Without any support, and all kinds of facts against him, Tony backtracked. There was some discussion of perhaps the city lending the county some money. Or perhaps the city paying for the extra large gym at Butterfly Ridge elementary.  We’ll see if this comes up at their May meeting.

Last night our RALE friends went before the Board of Zoning Appeals in another chapter of their long fight against the MTC. Here’s Steve McKay’s report on what happened last night:

RALE was at the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) tonight.

I’d like to tell you that we were successful, but we weren’t. The bottom line is that the BZA, which believes that County Staff is ALWAYS assumed to have acted correctly, decided that we didn’t count, that we didn’t have “standing”, and so they ignored the merits of our argument. I’m going to break this down but let’s first review what this appeal was about.

At the end of last year, AFTER the Council ordered the Monrovia Town Center case to start over again, we learned that an “Outlot” was being processed, based on the old, invalidated BoCC approvals, to accommodate the planned water tower to service Landsdale and MTC. The Planning Commission approved the Outlot plat recordation, and we appealed that Planning Commission approval. The Zoning Administrator (but not really, because it was really Cathy Mitchell acting on behalf of this guy) denied our appeal, saying that it was a “ministerial action” and, therefore, not subject to appeal. We then appealed their denial – because it was wrong – and that’s why we were there tonight.

Now let’s talk about the “standing” issue. First of all, the County didn’t even base their denial on a belief that we lacked standing. They based it entirely on their “ministerial” argument. It was the developer that raised the standing issue, and the County basically said – “oh yeah, we think that, too!” So the developer and the County were working together tonight – again – arguing that we don’t count. Their argument was based on the fact that RALE doesn’t own property. This is true. The much-fabled “RALE warehouse” doesn’t exist. But there is another element of standing that they ignored. You see RALE has “personal interests” in this case, and that should have been sufficient to establish our standing. You see, RALE has invested countless hours, effort and a whole lot of money (donated by all of YOU) to this effort. That’s the basis of our personal interest, our standing … that they ignored.

In the end, the appeals commissioners ignored that element and asked their County attorney whether we had standing or not. Not surprisingly, we lost the argument. On this point, I want to personally thank the people that testified about how RALE represents the community on this issue. The appeals commissioners didn’t hear it or acknowledge the point – but I did, and I thank you.

But now let’s look at the merits of the issue because although the BZA may have ignored this argument, or claimed ignorance to the issues (which was bull___), the County CLEARLY violated the zoning ordinance in submitting the Outlot for approval. Let’s start with the appropriate section of the Ordinance, shown below. The language and its implications are very clear. If an Outlot plat is part of a subdivision in a preliminary plan, then it must go through the final plat process.

In the other image, the preliminary/site plan CLEARLY shows the Outlot as part of the plan. This preliminary/site plan is NOT completed. Is NOT signed. Thus, the Outlot has not completed the final plat process, as required by the ordinance. It never should have been approved!

So you might wonder how the County attorney – Cathy Mitchell – responded to this argument. Basically, she didn’t! First, she said we lied but didn’t explain how. Then she justified the whole thing on the basis that the “County needed this plot of land” for the water tower. Now this pissed me off. We didn’t lie – we just caught them in an error. The language in the ordinance is clear and unambiguous and they violated that language. So I don’t appreciate being called a liar. Next, saying that the “County needed the land” is NOT a justification for violating the zoning ordinance. That’s Bull!

Beyond these points – which should have been enough – our argument boils down to this fundamental premise. This Outlot approval was based on a zoning approval from the BoCC. That approval was based on a record that has now been TWICE invalidated – by the Circuit Court and by the Council. You can NOT have a valid approval based on an invalidated record. Effectively, that record no longer exists. The Council decided to create a new record. The Planning Commission will now go forward, ignoring that past history. The record is null and void and any approvals based on that record are now moot.

So the bottom line is that County staff and Planning Commission should have never even entertained this Outlot plat recordation because it is based on an invalidated, non-existent record. But even so, they still violated the zoning ordinance by approving it! I’ll be real clear now – we will appeal this because it is wrong. It’s more time and money, but sometimes, you have to do what’s right.

Best regards, Steve

If you would like to help RALE with their legal expenses they are holding a raffle. Click here for more info.